COLUMBUS, Va. (WCMH) – If you’re up early Tuesday morning and see a cyclist who looks like he’s on a missing, it could be Nick Novotny.

Novotny is a Marine who started his trip out west and is riding east to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project, specifically for one wounded warrior who lost his battle with mental health.

“Hey, my name is Nick and he and I were stationed together and this is an idea that I had,” Novotny said of a phone conversation he had with James Currie’s mother this summer.

He and Currie were Marines stationed together in Hawaii just before May 2020.

“He was kind of suffering with his problems with alcoholism and thing was, with the Marine Corp command, he was afraid of backlash,” Novotny said of his friend.

Currie was found in his barracks, dead from an accidental overdose. He may have been the nicest Marine Novotny had ever met.

“The ride is kind of, for me, to gather myself mentally and what I want to do with myself and I thought about James and what his life meant to a lot of people and how I really wanted to bring it back to life, in a sense,” he said.

In Columbus on Monday, Novotny visited another former Marine. Novotny started his journey in Tillamook, Oregon, on June 25, and on Labor Day, he’ll be in Glenside, Pennsylvania – James’ hometown – for a celebration of life.

“His story is meant to tell this mental health awareness, but I think his life shouldn’t represent how he passed, but more so what it represented,” Novotny said.

Like the people on this ride that brought back memories of Currie.

“Random people hand me a drink at the convenience store without even saying anything, not looking for a thank you, not looking for a story,” Novotny said with a smile. “They just get this vibe that I’m doing something and they just want to do something nice.”

He’ll finish his ride after 4,000 miles and 10 states by putting his tires in the ocean near his home in New Jersey. And then…

“That’s a good question, honestly,” Novotny said. “I don’t know. I’ve learned with this trip you plan day by day. it’s too hard to plan weeks in advance. That’s life, yeah.”

So far, Novotny has raised $10,000, with half going to the Wounded Warriors Project and half to Currie’s family. If you would like to donate, click here.